the children were asleep, but Wiri widened his eyes at them in surprise.
‘Where's your mother, Wiri?’ she asked, knowing the answer already.
‘She at the party, Miss. Pungas', they having the party.’
‘You shouldn't let Ra go off like that. She'll be getting into trouble. You don't want her growing up a bad girl, do you, and going off to gaol?’
‘No, Miss,’ answered Wiri, dutiful but unconvinced. He remembered it was gaol where Lena went that time, and came back so clever, sewing clothes for the kids and all. Gaol couldn't be so bad. Ra crawled in obediently beneath the tattered blanket.
‘Now, off to sleep, and no more prowling, d'you hear?’
The candle was snuffed abruptly.
Ra waited till the padding footsteps faded along the pathway; then she leant over the sleepers, and shook them awake urgently. They stirred, muttered, and looked at her with drugged eyes, over which the lids fluttered weakly.
Ra turned to include Wiri in her ecstatic beam.
‘Hey,’ she said, ‘hey, you fellers, you know what?’
The moon, shining mistily through the cobwebbed window, caught the gleam in her eye.
‘You know what?’, she asked again, triumphantly. ‘I rung it … I rung the bell!’